People started arriving at 10am at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Ten hours later, they were still there, eyes affixed upon the giant LED screen broadcasting images of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
As results rolled in at 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm, supporters roared with approval whenever an NLD victory was announced.
After the 9pm Union Election Commission broadcast, stating that the NLD had won another 13 of 16 declared Lower House seats – this time including results from cities and areas outside Rangoon –an announcer bellowed: “Is change possible?”
“Yes!” the crowd roared.
Throughout the day, they have been singing and dancing on Shwegondaing Street, where the NLD headquarters is located. The presence of thousands of supporters stalled traffic to a crawl as crimson-clad volunteers steered vehicles through and around them. Commuters on the bus held up their smartphones to record the jubilant crowd as they celebrated every win as it was declared on-screen.
May Phyo, 22, is a first-time voter, and was ecstatic to be part of the moment. “I cannot express the feelings I have in words. If the NLD wins, it is like infinite happiness for me,” she said.
For the ruling USDP, May Phyo struck a tone of conciliation.
“I think it is not possible for them to win,” she said. “[But] they can support us in other ways. We can all work together in the future.”
Despite the general mood of triumph, Thaesu Myat Thazin still had reservations.
“Last night, we heard that there was cheating in the advanced voting, yet right now they say NLD is winning … But I am still really worried,” the 22-year-old said, adding that many of her peers have chosen not to take part in the election.
“They think that a vote is not essential. They believed that no matter how many votes the NLD gets, the government would still cheat. Because in 1990, when the NLD won …” she trailed off.
But Batin Nooe Karim is focused on the future. Insisting that the NLD must win, the 30-year-old Rohingya from Arakan State is hopeful that Suu Kyi will be able to diminish the religious tensions that currently plague Burma.
Batin added that he understands the opposition party’s reasons for not having any Muslim candidates standing for election.
“Our situation is very bad right now … The NLD party will be able to help us in the future– that’s all we can hope for,” he said.
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